Be The Change : No longer a Corporate Cog

[ This is the second one I'm doing as part of stories about people who embraced change. ]

Sharath Raju was in a great place in life - bang in the middle of the IT story with a nice juicy salary, a modeling career in parallel and pursuing his love for cycles in parallel.

But then, TFN happened, and Sharath actually quit his job to go on the tour!

Around the same time, cycling started becoming a big thing around Bangalore and along came an interesting opportunity - Decathlon started operations in India and Sharath got in touch to explore if he could work with them. Lower salary to start off with, at least, an uncertain path (its still a small market, really) and surely not the usual climb up the career ladder for folks in IT. But the heart ruled, and the promise of being able to professionally pursue something he really enjoyed was a major draw.

Sharath now works for Decathlon as their Biz Manager. He cycles to work everyday and is also a trekker, rafter, and model!

Sharath speaks about his life altering decision:

What was the change, and how did it come about ?
It was more to do with my psychological self. It had been 3 years into the IT field and life just went on. When i started exploring new fun-filled activities like biking/running daily/weekend, reality used to strike me to re-look into my real interests. While i was deep into the organizing of the TFN event, i woke up one fine day to realise, i am not gonna do this job anymore. I put in my papers, and headed off on the tour! :) .I think i chose to follow my feelings and not what the world has to say.

After i started working on making TFN a success through partners and sponsors, i got in touch with the Decathlon guys to see if they would be interested. Edition '08 didn't receive much support from Decathlon, but the relationship was developed and we were appraising them regularly about the success of the event, and the execution. In Feb '09 i got an enquiry that they were looking for Technicians on their Btwin brand. I decided to apply as i saw that was fairly in line with my interests.
Got a call in March from Prajval, the then Business head for Institutional sales and marketing, to discuss my interests and areas i would like to contribute. And in was on board without much delay in April.
Why ?
Peer pressure, immediate and extended family pressure, my marriage, all played a influential role at different stages. Living a life just to satisfy a imaginary level of ego, restricted my liberty to explore new ways of living life. I had to give that up and was waiting for the right moment.

Impact ? Financially ? Lifestyle ? Etc...
I was 'unemployed' for 3 months, which was like a WHOA? especially when you're amidst close family ties. Yes it was tough, and the pressure psychologically and emotionally was surmounting. But that grind only could make me stronger and look at the long term. Considering i had some outstandings, yes i was wholly dependent on family. I think i've never saved enough money in my life than i did in those 3 months.
Early thoughts ? Others' comments ? Self-doubts ?
Yes, i had a mix of positive energy bursts and emotional breakdowns at the same time. Being in close family/friend circle boosted my level of confidence. I suffered in my mind trying to figure out my real interest in my life. One question that always lingered in my head all through the day was to figure out what gives me most joy in doing and can be profitable as well.
Experiment, or sticking to it ?
I also said to myself, why did i ever leave my job, I could've just stayed on and figured it out on the way. But the best part of this is, unless you're put into this vulnerable position, we're always unwilling to come out of our comfort zone and put ourselves to the test.
Why did u persist ?
Because knew this is the chance to prove myself as an individual, and set an example.
Isn't it scary ?
Very, very scary. I decided to laugh about it, live the good times by catching up with friends. This helped me get away from lonely or diverting feelings. And I even got valuable advice to help chase my dreams. I realised one thing though, 'Time is the healer'.
Biggest benefits ?
Oh, once you believe this is where you belong, the sense of achievement and confidence is unimaginable. It strengthens your humility and respect the simplicity of life.
Why should others do it ? When should they follow something ?
It is better to realize one's interest early to lead a happy and contented life. Because once you grow old, all you have time for is to reflect on the good old days, and wonder if it could have been better. At least i don't want to die an unhappy man!
Tips ? Advice ?
Keep your head up, event at the toughest of times. Because even your strongest belief of being strong would be put to the test, and you will be forced to doubt your capabilities. Contrary to these thoughts, if you fight these emotional swings, one shall come out a winner! Life's only worth living to the fullest!

Sharath's switch was a bold move, especially from where he started on the new path. A lot many folks I know have wanted to make such changes at multiple points, but the decision to dive right in is never easy or certain. The fuzziness, nervousness is always a part of it, as Sharath candidly points out. The important thing is go ahead and make the switch. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And its your dreams and your life at stake!

[ Oh, and now you know whom to ask for when you go over to Decthlon's huge store off Sajrapura Road to check out bikes and accessories :D ]


Pradeep B V said...

Congratulation Sharath. Its easy to talk and think about change but to be the change it takes a lot!

Wishing you the very best on your journey towards being a role model from a model.

Sridhar Pabbisetty said...

Wish u a very good ride ahead sharath :-).
It was indeed a pleasure to see you manage this change. Reminds me of your yogic breaks in the middle of the tfn rides where u would sit down in the midst of the nature and meditate (i guess ;-))!